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Uploaded on on Sep 5, 2021


A mummy is a deceased human or animal whose soft tissues and organs have been preserved by exposure to chemicals, severe cold, very low humidity, or absence of air, either intentionally or accidentally, so that the retrieved corpse does not deteriorate further if kept cool and dry. Some sources limit the term to bodies that have been chemically embalmed, while it has been used to describe bodies that have been unintentionally desiccated from at least 1615 AD (see the section Etymology and meaning).

Human and animal mummies have been discovered on every continent, both as cultural relics and as a consequence of natural preservation under exceptional conditions. In Egypt, over one million animal mummies have been discovered, with many of them being cats. Many of the Egyptian animal mummies are sacred ibises, and radiocarbon dating indicates that the Egyptian Ibis mummies that have been studied date from around 450 to 250 BC.

Apart from the mummies of ancient Egypt, intentional mummification was a hallmark of numerous ancient societies in dry-climate parts of America and Asia. The Spirit Cave mummies near Fallon, Nevada, North America, were found to be over 9,400 years old. The earliest known intentional mummy before this find was a kid, one of the Chinchorro mummies discovered in Chile’s Camarones Valley approximately 5050 BC. The oldest known naturally mummified human body is a 6,000-year-old severed head discovered in 1936 AD at the Inca Cueva No. 4 site in South America.


While interest in mummies stretches back to Ptolemaic Greece, the majority of scholarly research on them began at the turn of the twentieth century. Many recovered mummies were previously marketed as curiosities or for use in pseudoscientific fads like mummia. Professors from Cairo’s English-language Government School of Medicine conducted the first modern scientific investigations of mummies in 1901. Professors Grafton Elliot Smith and Howard Carter utilized the only X-ray machine available in Cairo at the time to study the mummified body of Thutmose IV in 1903. During the same time period, British chemist Alfred Lucas performed chemical tests on Egyptian mummies, yielding several conclusions concerning the sorts of chemicals employed in embalming. In 1922, Lucas made major advances to the study of Tutankhamun.

Throughout the twentieth century, the pathological study of mummies had different degrees of prominence. The First World Congress on Mummy Studies took place in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife, Canary Islands, in 1992. More than 300 scientists attended the Congress to present over a century’s worth of mummy research. The meeting’s material sparked a fresh wave of interest in the issue, with one of the most significant outcomes being the integration of biological and bioarchaeological data on mummies with existing databases. Due to the unique and extremely specialized procedures necessary to acquire such data prior to the Congress, this was not practicable.

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